“And in the end, he committed suicide. So it was one of the things that I went through in life and I thought… Because I always thought when he was under suicide watch like he kept trying to commit suicide a few times. Taking tablets, doing this, doing that and do you know what I thought to myself? Because he was grieving from his partner [leaving him], I thought, ‘This is a cry for help just to get the family to try and help him.’
“But obviously, truth be known, it wasn’t. He was deadly serious with what he was trying to do, but I never thought that. Because when you look at your older brother you love and you’re close with, you don’t think…”
The nicest man you could meet is a title you could give to many boxers, Charlie Duffield certainly falls into that bracket. A man who could quite easily be bitter after battling his own demons whilst suffering the loss of his brother who didn’t manage to overcome demons of his own.
Dean Duffield, brother and best friend to the Light-Heavyweight contender, took his own life after back and forth with his mental health battles. Enough for one man to deal with Charlie also suffered in his own mind, he was a gambling addict who was spiralling out of control, but it was his brother who was his priority.
“Obviously I didn’t know how much he was grieving, obviously. He hid it pretty well. I used to ring him up sometimes, ‘Yeah, I’m not too bad.’ But deep down he probably was. He was at the lowest, but he didn’t show it. So he hid it from us and we didn’t know how much he was grieving and stuff. How much he was suffering. So it just goes to show that some of your close, close family members, if you hide it from them as I did with my gambling and stuff like that, they won’t know. They won’t know what you’re going through.”
Dean was a victim of heartbreak. His partner of 11 years had left him leaving him feeling alone with no one to turn to. He felt invisible, without a voice, he didn’t speak out. His cries for help came from the bottom of a bottle and cocktails of pills.
“He started drinking and then it just got worse and worse. He was just taking all sorts of things, then I was just trying to help him. I was constantly trying to help him as well as suffering for myself. But as I said, I was suffering in silence. Told no one what I was going through. So just trying to help him as much as possible and his drinking got so bad and I thought, ‘Is there not anything I say or do, I just can’t help him.’
“It was one of those things when you’re going through a bad addiction. It’s only you that can help yourself, no matter what someone tells you and how much someone helps you. If you don’t want to help yourself, it’s not going to happen. And it just got worse and worse and I thought, ‘He’s going to drink himself to death.’ I thought bloody hell, it’s like my older brother, he was 33 at the time, I think. I always looked up to him. He was a popular boy. Yeah, it was mad and I just watched him go from popular to down to the bottom. Like, a steep, steep hill to the bottom pretty fast. I mean, from the drinking it was just killing him.”
Amidst the grieving of losing his brother the mask, he wore daily started to slip when his wife, Carly, would discover that there were unaccounted finances disappearing. Charlie secret was about to rear its ugly head.
“I messed up a few times. I was saving money and then I would spend it. So I had to [tell her] because obviously, she knew what money we had and stuff we were saving. Then I would still spend a few grand and I’d have to sort of telling her, so little things made… Not making it easier, because it’s bloody hard. But making it easier for me to open up.
“So after a big problem, you only see the small bits. Like, a couple of grand here and there or the 500 quid, really, I’ve got a massive problem, this, that, and the other. So me messing up when she knew about what money we actually… If we were saving money, there would be three grand there. I spent two grand. I had to tell her because she’d be like, ‘Where’s the two grand?’ Then small bits that I messed up that she knew about making it easier to open up and to tell her about everything.” Duffield explained.
“Then I was lying and then it just, you start lying to your wife. I was lying to Carly and stuff like that, and it was horrible. Do you know what I mean? When I had to open up, I ain’t going to lie, I felt like a big baby. I broke down. It was horrible. It was one of the worst feelings to go through because I broke down to my missus and my little brother, Frankie, who I’m really close with. They’re the first two and yeah, it was horrible.”
Duffield is now an advocate for mental health charities and uses his platform to spread positivity and to encourage anyone suffering to talk to somebody. Especially men, who typically feel this sense of pride to not call for help when it is so desperately needed.
“Like what I was trying to explain to people and as many people out there are suffering, it’s good to talk up and speak out to people. Speak out loud. I mean, don’t suffer in silence because it will only get worse and worse. So yeah, it’s one of them… It’s a horrible, hard situation when you’re in it. You feel like you’re never going to get out. You feel like you’re in a big hole and you can’t climb out of this hole, you ain’t got no ladder. So, you know, it’s a horrible thing to go through.
“Yeah, it was hard. Don’t get me wrong. I hid everything. My gambling got so bad, I thought of committing suicide a few times and stuff, but I’m glad I never because like I say, I’ve got my beautiful family and stuff now. I’m away from gambling, I’m clear, I’m happy. But I do think about how I got that low. I do think about it and I went to try and do silly things. When I had my little girl, she was only that young, my first little girl, and it’s horrible.”
Dean didn’t beat his demons but Charlie did. Now Charlie has two beautiful children, both girls, a beautiful wife, good friends and a good career. Today, Charlie realises the true value of life itself.
“I’ve got a strong wife who stuck by me and the many times I lied to her about gambling and stuff, she could’ve easily walked away from me. I messed up so many times, but I’ve got a good wife who’s got a big heart and she stuck by me and she’s pushed me to be the man I am today. I owe everything to Carly, really if I think of it, she’s my rock. She’s helped me massively.
“Every time I think about my brother, it’s always a good memory. Not a bad memory. So that’s the only way I get through it.”